Lockdown special: How are Kolkata's artists and digital creators coping with the quarantine?
The lockdown has painted a dismal picture - so, how are Kolkata’s artists and illustrators navigating the isolation?
Art has a way of staying relevant even in the bleakest of times, and some of the Kolkata-based illustrators and digital artists agree with us. But the lockdown hasn’t been easy on the creative community especially since every aspect of culture has pretty much taken a backseat. And though there’s a visible lack in new commissions and projects, the city’s young creatives are keeping busy and taking the time to connect with their community. We talked to some of them to understand the situation better:
Noodle Doodle by Roshni Bhattacharya is an incredible one-stop-shop for customised art, personalised merch and kitschy stationary. Bhattacharya, who is influenced by people and the movements around her, was obviously affected by the news cycle around the global pandemic.
“Being an artist is very emotional, we are so very connected to our work. So, when this started I had nothing productive happening because of the intense negativity going around, the news had become so overpowering. I saw that a lot of people are trying to overcome this barrage of hopelessness by indulging in something positive like cooking or art. So, I started sketching about it,” Roshni tells us.
The artist’s Quarantine Stories series is a spirited album of people from the city trying to hold on to run-off-the-mill routines to cope with the quarantine, be it a musician working the mop or just the idea of dressing up to make some tea. “I could not take up new projects because of the lack of printers and vendors, so obviously I couldn't accept some projects. Even though I’m a digital artist, I could not take up any canvas painting work. People are obviously ordering less and I made a conscious decision to hold off on the shipments to stay safer” she tells us.
Kolkata-based illustrator and designer Joyeeta Bose is trying to create everyday to deal with the uncertainty of the situation; the artist who has anxiety, obviously doesn’t have it all figured at the moment. “I have anxiety issues and being locked up in home makes it worse. But the best way to get over anxiety is to face it so I am working through it.. creating everyday and trying to look at the positive side of the situation,” she tells us. Studio Joyeeta is a design studio which has gained a lot of recognition for its edgy, avante garde art, be it the Frida with a bindi or Bose’s retro-inspired postcards and bookmarks.
She also makes really cool jewellery and accessories which has obviously found a huge clientele in the city, but the designer tells us her commissions have gone down in number in the last few days. “The number of commissions I'm getting are definitely less than normal but there’s still hope with the work I’m getting. But I am definitely a bit worried as this is my profession and sole source of income,” she tells us.
Bose has revealed that her art is mostly inspired by life around her. But since life as we know it is in such a standstill right now she is making room for newer things. “Being locked up at home doesn't help me much as walking and seeing people in their regular life actually inspires me to paint. But I’m taking this as a challenge and want to use this opportunity to work on things which I didn't do before on some new subjects and my feelings during this quarantine,” she tells us.
Digital artist and illustrator Anwesha Paul hasn’t really taken a break even while being quarantined; although there’s a visible paucity in new projects, she is using this time to hone her craft and stay connected with her community. In the last few months her page Parkers Illustrations has produced some of the most prolific Instagrammable art that's fierce, popping and has stunning visual appeal.
The artist, who’s just 19, has also worked on some international projects and tells us that though she is continuing her work, the commissions are arriving late. “Since I usually focus on personal illustrations, posters or wedding art I’m experiencing a dip in new projects because of the lockdown. I feel like there’s a delay in everything,” she tells us.
Paul who’s pursuing her B-Tech from a Kolkata institute is currently back at her home in Siliguri and reveals she is indulging in some experimentation which helps her artistic process. “I ‘m at home with my family in Siliguri and since I have some time now I can try out a lot of new things, that part’s great. I’m also focusing on collaborating with other artists and helping them out and staying connected with them,” she tells us.
She has created some of the most famous posters you may have come across in the last few years, and even though Tollywood is on an indefinite hiatus at the moment creative designer Ekta Bhattacharya is keeping busy. The month before the summer vacation is a crucial one in the industry and several of Ekta’s films, including a couple of chldrens’ films have been put on hold. “My creative design studio called Ekta Creative Tales also does a lot of commercial work.
Some of my Tollywood projects have been postponed, some of the films I was working on were supposed to release this month. But since social media is still very much up and running so we’re still designing quite a bit for OTT platforms, film announcements or for branding,” says Ekta.
In fact the designer reveals that companies and production houses are coming up with newer ways to stay connected with their target audiences amid the lockdown, especially through visual media. “A lot of companies have approached us to make motion posters for their logo, which is a fresh concept here, and a way of staying relevant amid the lockdown. The lockdown has given me a lot of perspective on how to navigate things if in the future all content only releases virtually, including films!” Ekta reveals.